2017 Ram 3500: Quick Review

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Our most recent head-to-head comparison — the 2017 One-Ton Heavy-Duty Pickup Challenge — pitted the all-new 2017 Ford Super Duty F-350 against the winner of our previous one-ton contest, the GMC Sierra 3500.

As many readers noted after seeing photos on our Facebook page and other places, we had all three class competitors at the beginning of the Challenge. The Ram's cab configuration was not compatible with the BigTex test trailer we had, so we were not able to complete the full test with the Ram 3500 MegaCab. Rather than provide partial information for the Ram in the Challenge, we decided to remove it because it had not undergone any significant structural or mechanical changes since our last contest.

But since we had the Ram for our track testing and dyno runs, we're following up with our impressions, the results of the tests we did with it and our photography.

What It Had

Our Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl Ram 3500 Mega Cab 4x4 dually came to us in Longhorn Limited trim with the turbo-diesel 6.7-liter inline-six-cylinder Cummins engine and Aisin six-speed transmission ($11,395), 4.10:1 axle gears ($125), the Fifth-Wheel/Gooseneck Towing Prep Group ($445) and tri-fold tonneau cover ($545). Other options included the auto-leveling rear-axle air suspension ($1,595), power sunroof ($1,095), a bed camera ($345), a single-disc CD player ($295), black Ram lettering on the tailgate ($195), a rear window defroster ($195) and a few other smaller options. The Ram totaled a whopping $81,900, which included a $1,395 destination fee and two delete options ($490 credit for not getting the RamBox and $500 credit for not getting the 20-inch wheels). That price topped the F-350 Lariat by more than $7,000 and the Sierra 3500 Denali by more than $12,000. The Ram was definitely the best dressed of the three, arguably offering the most value. 

Track Testing

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During our track testing at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway the Ram 3500 placed last in each contest. The other two trucks trounced it in the zero-to-60-mph testing, where the Ram had a best time of 10.26 seconds when empty and 14.22 when loaded with 4,200 pounds of sand bags in the bed. For each of those track runs, the Ram was about 20 percent slower than the Ford (8.27 empty, 10.94 loaded) or GMC (8.14 empty, 10.55 loaded).

When doing the empty and loaded quarter-mile runs, the Ram performed a little better when compared to the Ford and GMC, running about 10 percent slower. In 60-to-zero-mph braking — we only tested empty braking because we could not properly strap down the sand bags — it took the Ram an additional 22 feet to stop compared to the GMC and 16 feet longer than the Ford.

We also conducted a dynamometer test during our Challenge. Las Vegas Mobile Dyno brought a mobile rear dyno to the track and we put all three trucks on it. The best result the dyno technician could get for the Ram was 290 horsepower and 575 pounds-feet of peak torque, both considerably less than what we generated from the GMC's 6.6-liter V-8 Duramax (383 hp, 786 pounds-feet of torque) or the Ford's 6.7-liter Power Stroke (360 hp, 663 pounds-feet of torque). The dyno technician did note that the Cummins, transmission or software was pulling power in the first few gears during the dyno runs.

How It Drove

Although our judges did not get as much time with the Ram on the road as the others, we do have a few thoughts about its drivability.

The Ram was the heaviest of the three at 8,760 pounds, but it did offer 635 pounds of additional calculated payload (5,240 pounds) compared to the GMC (4,605 pounds of payload) and 80 pounds less than the Ford (5,320 pounds of payload). Interestingly, both the max gooseneck hitch weight (21,440 pounds) and gross combined weight ratings (30,300 pounds) for the Ram were less than the Ford (27,900 and 36,000, respectively) and GMC (22,700 and 31,300, respectively).

Still, the Ram's driving dynamics and road feel were impressive. The extra weight up front with the solid axle and heavier engine provided a softer and smoother experience for the driver. The auto-load-leveling air bags in the rear also helped keep things smooth and firm. During our squat test — in which we measured the height variation between empty and 4,200-pound loaded heights at the receiver hitch — the Ram's load-leveling air bags meant the rear sagged less than an inch, where the Ford and GMC — which lacked load-leveling capability — sagged by 2.125 and 3.375 inches, respectively.

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In terms of steering feel, the Ram suffered a bit when compared to the GMC's independent front suspension and the Ford's new software-controlled adaptive steering, which is bundled into the tow package. The Ram lumbered a bit and felt less confident when cornering (not running in straight lines). Our judges also disliked the thick steering wheel.

Subjective Testing

The Ram would have stood out in the subjective portion of the Challenge. The fit and finish of the materials, wood and accent choices along the doors, dash and center console was far above the competition. The gauge layout and expansive engine and vehicle information provided, the center console layout and size of the navigation screen, and the ease-of-operation and integration of the various apps were all standout features. And with the largest cab of the group, the Ram's seats were comfortable.

We can't be sure that favorable scores from our judges in the subjective scoring categories would have been enough to overcome the poor performances in track testing, but it could have tightened the results.

Final Thoughts

All said, when analyzing data we collected, it would have been difficult for the Ram to pull off the win.

However, it's worth noting that since we conducted our 2017 One-Ton Heavy-Duty Pickup Challenge, Ram announced a software modification to the engine controls to adjust the variable-vein turbocharger, resulting in a maximum output of 930 pounds-feet of torque from the Cummins engine. That beats the Ford's 925 and the GMC's 910 pounds-feet of torque. All this means is that when we test this group of tow monsters the next time, we'll need to make sure we have all three players to see if this or any future changes shift the balance of power away from our current winner, the Ford Super Duty F-350.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

 

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Comments

Nice truck, although I'm going to wait for the new Ford, They are suppose to be coming out with a new F-450 with duals on the front axle as well.

"All said, when analyzing data we collected, it would have been difficult for the Ram to pull off the win."

Well, that depends, had it squatted an inch less than the Ford it would've won.

Oop's missed that squat test. So if Ram squatted less than an inch so it beat the Ford by about the same as the Chevy. So the Ford would be around 67 points for squatting and the Ram wins.

The Ford would still win because it's easier to turn on the dome light. 50 point bonus.

the Gm twin, king of sagging loads

Ching.
Chong.
RAM!

The GMC is the best truck and best looking. The Ram never stood a chance.

@gms, dont forget best sagging, mexican frame rusting, technology lacking, square wheel wells, off-center steering, motor shaking, fraudulent payload writing, low hanging def tank, twisting bed....to name a few. Congrats on these by the way.

@gms, dont forget best sagging, mexican frame rusting, technology lacking, square wheel wells, off-center steering, motor shaking, fraudulent payload writing, low hanging def tank, twisting bed....to name a few. Congrats on these by the way.

Posted by: Nitro | Aug 29, 2017 9:59:40 AM

Wow, you really are upset that the GMC beat your FORD in every performance test. Keep defending your 2nd place performance Ford.

My towing experience is towing heavy fifthwheels at 15,000 lbs and up. I used all three majors over the years. Each brand had its good points and bad points. I ended up going with Ram as my favorite. It wasn't the fastest. It wasn't the quickest. But it was still running strong when the others were long dead and **that** is the name of the game. If you're more interested in who gets to 60 the fastest they why on earth are you buying a tow vehicle?

@dale, the cummins is probably the diesel engine on the market, I love my Power stroke, but that Cummins is awesome. Where I work, we had a mix of Ford and GM twins, now we are in the middle of going strickly Ram for our trucks, looking forward to that

@ Nitro
Our little transport company is GM and Ford stuff but we are seriously looking at replacing our older vehicles with Ram.

@gms, dont forget best sagging, mexican frame rusting, technology lacking, square wheel wells, off-center steering, motor shaking, fraudulent payload writing, low hanging def tank, twisting bed....to name a few. Congrats on these by the way.


Posted by: Nitro | Aug 29, 2017 9:59:40 AM

Your laughable.

When the Ford was getting gouged for stargazing due to it's horrible sag under load, It w as a non-factor. Now it's an issue for you, Nitro?

Your posts are pure comedy when you try to sound intelligent.

Look at the dyno differences:

Duramax: 383hp and 786tq
Powerstroke: 360hp and 660tq
Cummins: 290hp and 575tq

The Duramax/Allison combo is truly amazing.

The cummins has always been real slow for acceration. But once you get to your desired speed, man can it pull without loosing any speed or momentum.

If you're more interested in who gets to 60 the fastest they why on earth are you buying a tow vehicle?

Posted by: Dale | Aug 29, 2017 10:33:02 AM

Because getting up to highway speed quickly is very important. Otherwise, you can become an obstacle that others need to maneuver around.

I would also suggest that guys conducting a heavy duty truck test wearing shorts and sandals, cannot and should not be taken seriously.

At that point the entire test is suspect.

@akward, the gms guys were the only ones complaining about the Ford sag, those of us who actually own one have no complaints....That was just a bust on you gm clowns who say one thing one day than dont say anything when it involves your junk GM trucks.

Ford and Dodge where terrible for sagging in the back ends in the past years compared to Chev and GM when loaded with weight. I agree though the Cummins may be slowest to get to speed but once it's at its speed it holds it really well and at low rpms. It's a really good engine. The durmax diesel is a really good engine too but the cummins would probably out last the duramax and power stroke any day.

I ' AM a retired mechanic and garage owner for over 45 years experience I was a GM fan for years but in the last 10 years I have changed my mind Dodge Ram trucks have come a long way, I now own 2 1500 ,one 2500 and just bought a 3500 dually with a Cummings and love them all. The ride quality, heavy feel, power is great. Before I bought I drove the GMC with the Duromax-Allison then drove the Ram and liked it mush better and Ford would be my last choice, I have never been a Ford fan

I've let 4 or 5 people drive my Ram and they all loved the thick steering wheel. If you have little hands then you may not like it, but even my wife loves it.

The ram beat the Ford in TFL test,, Ford was the last to pull a trailer and it was in mototrend magazine,Chevy,dodge and Ford , ,

@Jeff "Ching. Chong. RAM!"
Posted by: Jeff S | Aug 29, 2017 9:35:04 AM

You got to love morons like Jeff...what he is to stupid to realize is that China already owns half of America! The U.S. debt to China is $1.102 trillion, as of May 2017. That's 28 percent of the $3.9 trillion in Treasury bills, notes, and bonds held by foreign countries....lol

Idiots like these remind me of the days when American automakers were making gas drinking junk and Japan kicked US butt...I don't think they ever recovered!

So Jeff Nǐ shìgè báichī

You got to love morons like Jeff...what he is to stupid to realize is that China already owns half of America! The U.S. debt to China is $1.102 trillion, as of May 2017. That's 28 percent of the $3.9 trillion in Treasury bills, notes, and bonds held by foreign countries Posted by: Really! | Aug 29, 2017

@Really!

Don't embarrass yourself. US debt is in the $20 trillion dollar range. Based on your number of US/Chinese debt at 1.1 trillion, China's position is about 5 percent. Not 28 percent.

If you really want to look smart do the homework before you run your mouth.

$12,000 more then a Denali Duramax, and with that 'maga cab' can't pull a 5th wheel trailer, I guess I could put my cows in the 'mega cab'

I really question whether the staff of this site are even qualified to conduct tests on these trucks. I don't think they understand what their actual use is nor do they have any real life experiences using a pickup truck.

Its a nice truck but the Fiat would have placed 3rd. Behind the GM offering. The Super Duty with its redesign will be king of these contests at least until a competitor redesign (unless they really mess up the redesign), and even after a competitor redesign the SD will continue to rule HD sales.

@papajim "Don't embarrass yourself. US debt is in the $20 trillion dollar range. Based on your number of US/Chinese debt at 1.1 trillion, China's position is about 5 percent. Not 28 percent"

Bonehead I'll try to type slowly so even you can understand. Of the $20 Trillion Debt that you speak of $5.6 Trillion is owed to other federal agencies. The public holds the rest of the approximate $14.4 Trillion in debt.

6 Trillion of that public debt is held by foreign governments. This includes about 28% to China (BTW and about another third to Japan).

Papajim before you open your big mouth, it's better to let someone think you are an idiot than to speak and prove it!

@Really!

You have no earthly idea.

You believe everything you see in print evidently. Worse, you appear to believe the crap that our own government publishes about the national debt. Good luck with that.

Want to buy a bridge?

@Papajim - I bet your brain feels as good as new, seeing that you never use it. I love morons like you, when faced with facts they deflect. Keep rolling your eyes, perhaps you'll find a brain back there!

Apparently Papajim only believes what he reads in Good Housekeeping…lol

BTW - I'll buy that "bridge" as soon as you jump off of it!


.

@Really!

Good luck.

There are great resources available online that allow you to check the facts before posting something that makes you look like Frank or Nitro.

The cummins has always been real slow for acceration. But once you get to your desired speed, man can it pull without loosing any speed or momentum.


Posted by: Kyle | Aug 29, 2017 12:00:21 Pm

Cummins has a cast iron head and block for durability not racing

Billet aluminum Cummins for racing, http://www.dieselarmy.com/news/from-block-to-block-fleece-performance-billet-aluminum-cummins/

So, which one needs more space to turn? Last I knew, the Ram had them beat.

I guess that isn't a worthy subject for trucks?

So lets see, Ram holds more weight with a bigger cab...

Has more ground clearance then the low rider GM.

Yeah, the other two are faster, we get it.

With the kind of torque they have now, they can all tow plenty and plenty fast.

But one reason I know people like diesels is for the sake of not revving up.

If you want a truck that drives like a Detroit Diesel, have at it.

Oh, thin steering wheels...get a 70s truck.

PUtrucks.com come on.....Does MSRP really matter when you can at all times find Ram trucks significantly cheaper then Ford/GMC/Chevy? All day i find limited/laramie long horn dually rams cheaper then a Ford F-250 lariat/king ranch. So if we are doing real world comparison lets do real world. Next, how is each trucks dyno run so much lower then what the manufacture is claiming? You really believe Ram has a near 50% drivetrain loss ? If the machine you are testing on has difficulty running the trucks because of the software behind them ask the manufacture for there testing parameters and go from there. Yes i am a Ram fan boy also yes im sure the Ram would have lost regardless, it has always been the slowest heaviest truck. Im fine with that ill take that big Cummins symbol on the side of the truck with a loss any day. But common sense has to prevail when doing these tests.

I must agree with @really when it comes to posting about papajim. Jim's brain has to be out to lunch most of the time.



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